Thursday, March 21, 2019

Learning to Move On

Two years ago yesterday I finished the first draft of Slowpocalypse Book 5, then set it aside so I could focus on rewriting Endurance of the Free. And I’m grateful I was able to complete the Miraibanashi trilogy before my dad died. But I had trouble getting back into the Slowpocalypse story.

I couldn’t summon much enthusiasm for writing then, or achieve any real momentum. The struggle left me working in fits and starts here and there, and the subsequent drafts in shambles as a consequence. Finding the focus required to do my best continued to elude me for a long time.

I soldiered on, but it wasn’t until I finally decided to go back and finish the first draft of Watchbearers Book 5 that I recaptured the real joy of writing. (That story is a lot more ‘fun’ than the serious Slowpocalypse one. And the freedom of just discovering it as I went, not worrying yet about getting the novel ready for readers, helped me get my ‘groove’ back.)

Then I returned to work on the final draft of Slowpocalypse Book 5. And after a while realized another issue was hindering my progress. One I had thought I’d overcome already. I was spending too much time obsessing over every line, trying to get each word and paragraph perfect, and hardly moving forward at all.

The problem with perfectionism is, it interferes with getting things done! I’d spent years trying to make my first novel flawless, and it was only after I decided to self-publish that I was able to stop fussing over every sentence and just finish it. Because I was so eager to get the book into the hands of readers. And after all, it’s impossible to reach that ideal of ultimate, final perfection in the flesh.

All I can do is my best, and that’s been good enough to entertain readers with eleven quality novels. And I was able to finish those, publishing two to three a year for a while there, by exercising the discipline of just sitting down at the computer and writing whether I felt like it or not. But even that’s not sufficient if I’m spending hours struggling over the best way to word a single page.

So I’ve been trying something new – exercising the discipline to spend a certain amount of time working on each chapter, making it the best I can in that span, and then moving on to the next one. Maybe when I’m done it’ll still need work. I reserve the right not to release a book until I know it’s ready, but so far everything is looking good. I’ve gotten further on in the past week than I had in the last two months. And at this pace I’ll have it out in June, and I intend to reveal the title, cover, and blurb soon.

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